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How Technology Helps UK Companies Adapt to Rapid Changes in Hiring

Talent acquisition leaders around the world face many of the same challenges: how to attract better candidates, how to optimize their hiring processes, and how to best employ technology to help their teams. But each country has a slightly different focus given its economic trends. 

The United Kingdom has faced unique challenges over the last several years: Brexit, runaway inflation, and a volatile economy that tilted from boom to recession almost overnight. To better understand talent acquisition trends in the UK, I sat down with Paul Marchant, Regional Vice President of Northern Europe at SmartRecruiters. 

Paul Marchant, RVP Northern Europe, SmartRecruiters

“During the great resignation, it was so hard to hire that TA leaders were nearly always given the tools they needed,” Paul said. When the economy turned, he continued, “the pendulum swung back, and companies became more focused on cost and efficiency again.”

Brexit’s effect on immigration means that UK companies are competing harder for hourly talent. “The tightening of our border controls post-Brexit means that a lot of industries can’t get the labour they previously had access to,” Paul explained. Retail, hospitality, and transportation roles have been particularly hard hit. Despite the recent rise in cost-cutting, C-Suite awareness of the importance of talent acquisition hasn’t gone away. “Now everyone understands the strategic nature of TA,” he said. “However, this understanding brings a whole new layer of pressure and scrutiny to the practice.” 

Paul spoke about the need for greater cooperation between executive leadership and talent acquisition, particularly when it comes to technology decisions. “We’ve seen TA leadership in companies ready to sign a contract with SmartRecruiters, only to find out at the last minute that their leadership had already signed off on an ERP,” he said. “This level of internal disconnect is unsustainable.” With such immense capability differences between ERP recruiting modules and standalone solutions like SmartRecruiters, it’s crucial that TA leaders consistently demonstrate the business impact of their preferred solutions so that they can influence decisions.

A flexible foundation for hiring keeps companies agile

The ability to influence technology decisions becomes even more important in volatile times. Paul said, “You can start the year with huge hiring goals and be doing layoffs by the end.” With that kind of unpredictability, companies need a talent acquisition suite that can help them adapt quickly, whether that’s adjusting core processes or integrating with point solutions. 

“SmartRecruiters provides a core TA technology foundation that helps companies change, adapt, reshape, redeploy, add to, and control,” Paul said. “Our customers can do that themselves, at the speed they want, without dependence on us.” While customers can adjust their configurations without the involvement of IT or SmartRecruiters, we provide implementation support, ongoing customer service, and access to a community of peers. Combining these self-sufficient tools and best-in-class services enables our customers to achieve powerful outcomes. Our success stories with UK companies Frasers, CityFibre, and Colliers EMEA showcase their achievements. 

Keeping up with innovation in talent acquisition

With decades of experience in HR tech, Paul has seen waves of technology evolution. “There’s constant innovation in talent acquisition,” he said. “The cosmopolitan, global nature of the UK is reflected in the vendor marketplace.” For some, the amount of TA tech can be overwhelming, but Smartrecruiters’ commitment to its partner marketplace can help leaders narrow their decisions. “Not only do we have an R&D team focused solely on talent acquisition,” Paul said, “we have an alliances team that’s constantly researching the marketplace, taking feedback from customers, and looking at market trends so we can make the best functionality available in our ecosystem. Our goal is to help customers differentiate fads from the impactful new tools they should be considering.”

As a geographically small country, the UK offers many opportunities for TA leaders to come together and share best practices. Paul spoke appreciatively of the RL 100, an organization that promotes excellence in resourcing, the British word for talent acquisition. RL 100 members set the example, Paul said, “of being savvy, knowledgeable, and sophisticated at managing their internal relationships so that they get the resources they need to be successful.” Managing those relationships is the key to maintaining a seat at the table and being included in technology decisions that impact recruiting. 

The waves of change aren’t going to stop. “We don’t know what the future is,” Paul said. “But if you’ve got a flexible technology operating system with an ecosystem around it, you’ve taken a step toward future-proofing. SmartRecruiters makes it easier to deal with the unexpected.”

Paul is just one of 14 hiring experts quoted in our latest eBook, Global Hiring Trends 2023: How Talent Acquisition Can Adapt and Thrive in 2023 and Beyond.

Download it today to learn more about six key trends impacting recruiting leaders today. You’ll also receive five checklists to help you make better technology decisions.


Lee Ann Prescott

Content marketing lead for SmartRecruiters